HOA fees are a reality....you always have to check to see what value they provide and consider what you value. Some of the more expensive ones, may include security, concierge, pool, gym. Never go to the gym, then you're paying for something you don't need. Never use the pool...same thing. Don't value a view....then don't live in a high rise as you will be paying for elevator maintenance and window cleaners. There are HOAs that don't have those amenities. If you do value them, then they might be worth paying for. Maybe cheaper to share pool expenses than buy a house with a pool.
My thought is over time people want to be closer to amenities, don't have time to take care of a yard and pool themselves and if gas prices rise much more than $4/gal people will want to live in the city, close to work, or near a commuter line. We're starting to see the foreclosures shake out when people paid crazy prices.....for what I've seen some sell for lately, it is under the replacement costs. Seems like prices are starting to go back up.
You can look at homes in this link:
You can also see some of my top picks in this link: